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The Family Guy Scene Patrick Warburton Refused To Do

There are a handful of adult-oriented animated programs out there, but "Family Guy" stands head and shoulders above the majority. Created by Seth MacFarlane back in 1999, the show chronicles the unorthodox lives of the Griffin family, made up of parents Peter (MacFarlane) and Lois (Alex Borstein), their children, Chris (Seth Green), Stewie (MacFarlane), and Meg (Mila Kunis), and the talking dog, Brian (MacFarlane). Though they appear as average, everyday people, the situations they have found themselves in over the years are anything but — oftentimes dragging other Quahog, Rhode Island natives into their misadventures.

Some of the most prolific presences in the Griffin family's lives are Peter's best friends, Cleveland Brown (Arif Zahir), Glenn Quagmire (MacFarlane), and Joe Swanson portrayed by the legendary Patrick Warburton. Officer Swanson was introduced in the fifth episode "Family Guy," titled "A Hero Sits Next Door," and has gone on to become one of its most recognizable characters thanks largely Warburton's unforgettable vocal cadence. In essence, it has reached a point that the two are synonymous with one another, making them virtually inseparable.

Be that as it may, what is the "Family Guy" crew to do if Warburton chooses to opt-out of a scene for personal reasons? It has only happened once, so here's why and how it was handled.

Family Guy once found Patrick Warburton's comedic limit

It turns out that after two decades of bringing Joe Swanson to the small screen, a single joke was enough to make Patrick Warburton back away from a "Family Guy" episode. Surprisingly, the line wasn't even uttered by Swanson, but Warburton felt strongly enough about its inclusion in the script that he chose to not participate. As a result, his 2D alter-ego was excluded from that particular story altogether. "It had to do with Christ on the cross, but there was no humor in it, and it was just so, so horribly offensive," he revealed to DigitalSpy in early 2019.

He continued, noting that he knows full well what he signed up for and has always been aware of the shocking and sometimes offensive nature of "Family Guy." It just so happens that this occasion pushed him beyond his limits and caused him to question the creative aim of the program. "They go, 'This line will never make it past standards of practice' and I go, 'Well, why does it have to be there in the first place?'" Warburton recalled, outlining the nature of satire and whether or not being offensive for the sake of it and not actively trying to make people laugh is truly worth it. 

Despite this one hiccup, Warburton clarified that he and the folks behind "Family Guy" have "great communication all the time. They are all great and listen to you. They know I'm a team player. They know how offensive that was." To this day, he continues to lend his vocal talents to the series and has shown no sign of leaving the Joe Swanson part behind, even if he's presented with material that doesn't necessarily align with his moral compass.